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Html Form Problem


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Hello.  I manage a not-for-profit website that has several HTML forms that generate emails to me with information such as name, address etc.  The forms have worked great for many years with very few problems. However, in the last couple of months there have been several intermittent instances where a website visitor completed the form, clicked Submit, but I never received the email. So, either the email was not generated, or something prevented me from receiving the email. My spam settings do not block the emails. If I try the form myself as a test, the form always works fine and I receive the email.


I am wondering if there is a problem with some devices such as specific phones types that are unable to generate the emails when a form is completed.


Would anyone have a suggestion as to where to look for the source of these intermittent problems and how to avoid them? 

Thank you in advance for any help that you can offer.



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HTML itself cannot do forms. There is usually some kind of PHP or similar involved. Maybe there is an update available for whatever forms generator you are usuing? Do you have at least a link? Without seing what you have, we can only just guess.

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Hi Andrea. Sorry it took so long for me to reply. I've been busy and trying to keep up.   The HTML form is very basic, the method is 'post' to a 'cgi-bin' script that processes email, nothing special at all, and it has worked for years with very little problems until recently.  The following is a sample of part of the code.

<form method="post" action="/cgi-bin/cgiemail/memorialprocess.txt">
<label for="required-memoryofname"><strong>
In Memory of</strong></label>
<input type="text" name="required-memoryofname" size="50" /><em>
- Required</em>
<label for="nextofkinname"><strong>
Next of kin</strong></label>
<input type="text" name="nextofkinname" id="nextofkinname" size="50" />
yada, yada, yada...more fields
<input type="submit" value="Proceed with Payment" />
<input type="hidden" name="success" value="URL to another webpage">
<input type="hidden" name="failure" value="URL to an 'Oops, missing required info' webpage">


Something causes me to not receive the email occasionally.  I know, this is wide open all over the place, but I'm just wondering what could be influencing the intermittent issue. I don't believe there are any configuration problems with form coding or cgi-email because the forms work nearly all the time and worked for years. If there was config issue the form wouldn't work at all. So, what's left? I verified email spam filters are not blocking the emails and most of the time I receive th emails. I am not sure where to look.



Edited by pcampbell
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This html by itself doesn't do anything. The real action comes from what's behind the cgi-bin. Unfortunately, I still haven't learned that kind of coding, so I probably wouldn't be able to tell what may or may not be causing the problem, but even those who can would have to see what's going on.

Maybe this site has some helpful info: http://www.html-form-guide.com/form-mail/cgi-form-mail.html

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I'm just wondering what could be influencing the intermittent issue. 


It could be many things. Have you done tests yourself, or are you just getting reports from people saying they sent emails you did not get?


I would test it a few times. Check your email server logs ... maybe email is getting flagged sometimes as spam dependent on what people fill out in the form. One thing is for sure, it is not a problem related to your HTML form. As long as the form's action attribute is pointing to the right script ... 



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Andrea, thank you for the html-form website. I took a quick glance at it and it looks like a good review. I will look at it when I can spend some quality time with it.  Hopefully in the next few days.


Stefan, to answer your questions...   I have tested all the forms many times.  They always work, with the exception of forms under development that I missed something with, but once I got them running they were consistently fine.

I know when the form (or rather the email) has failed because in my code shown above, the "URL to another webpage" for the "success" value is another webpage where the visitor can click a payment link (PayPal) of their choice. Then they complete payment on PayPal. When there is a failure I am receiving the PayPal payment notification (like I should), but not the email that was generated with the form before they got to PayPal.  The flow is like the following:


My donation webpage (with the form to generate the info email) > my webpage with payment options with links to PayPal > PayPal > returned to my thank you webpage


So, when there is a failure, I get the PayPal notice but not the info email.  For this type of donation (memorial) there are several information items needed, such as next of kin, next of kin address, and more...  Thank goodness the payment process works great, but the embarrassing thing here is asking the donor to provide the information a second time.  That's not acceptable service.

I had not thought about what people were putting in the fields as a possibility for this failure.  I'll see if I can get to the email server logs, that's a good idea.  I might not have access to the logs but I'll check. 


I am wondering too if some of the form hiccups may be happening when the donor completes the form with certain types of phones or devices.


Thanks for your help and food for thought!



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